The Devil Queen

How my wife and I sold our souls to the Queen Anne Victorian we tried to save.

My Photo
Location: Crow Mountain, Arkansas, United States

Synopsis: This is a cautionary tale. A seriously disturbed couple find the charming, old ruin of a Queen Anne Victorian in Russellville, Arkansas, and buy it for $1.00. They tore the roof off, cut it in half, and had it moved to some land they owned sixteen miles away because they didn't know any better. Since then, they have hired and fired contractors, had all of their tools stolen, re-wired, re-plumbed, insulated, and essentially rebuilt the entire house. Their only problem is that after four years it still isn't finished. Now they are tired, broke, and wonder what in the hell it is they've done to themselves. And, it's haunted.
(Last updated on April 3, 2008)

Press: Russellville Courier Article - December 2003, HGTV website article, AP story - October 2006, and Victorian Homes Magazine - February 2008 (link coming soon).
Art: From time to time, I receive requests for my art. If you would like to look at more of my art, go to The Failed Artist. If you would like to buy my art, email me. I am more than happy to answer any questions you might have. Thanks!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

More Archeology

There were all sorts of treasures in this room.

We found some graffiti on the canvas. It was written before the wallpaper was laid over the top of it. We still haven't uncovered it all. This one looks like a signature (can't really tell in the photo, sorry). We found another one (sorry no photo) that says “Monday 000.” We have no idea what that is supposed to mean.

On the back of the canvas backing we found this. In case you can't read this, it says, "Santa Rosa Sheetings." I tried Googling this but did find anything.

Jack found this one.

You Want a Piece of Me?!

It’s funny how things work. Jack was joking about me posting pictures of the wallpaper on the blog and some eccentric home improvement millionaire wanting a sample of the pattern so they could make reproduction wallpapers for big money. That statement apparently was true with a little editing:

"Jack was joking about me posting pictures of the wallpaper on the blog and some eccentric home improvement millionaire wanting a sample of the pattern so they could make reproduction wallpapers for big money."

So, you want a piece? That is cool with me, but there are a few caveats. Don’t worry, it’s nothing unreasonable.

1) This wallpaper is extremely brittle. I can’t guarantee what kind of shape it’ll be in once it arrives, but I’ll do my best.
2) If you are secretly running a business like Bradbury & Bradbury and use the pattern sample as a template for you new line of wallpaper, I want a percentage of the profits. No, seriously.
3) Build a shrine to the Devil Queen and worship her in all of her dark majesty.

If you (Lisa Jo and Jocelyn) are interested, email me at thedevilqueen(at)hotmail(dot)com (there is a link if you go up to the top of the page and click “view full profile”) and tell me what pattern (ceiling, wall, or both) & how much of it you’d like. I’ll see what I can do for you.

Jocelyn, I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but there is no turtle. I took a second look at the pictures from yesterday, and I can see that it does look like one. But, sadly it isn’t. Here is a better picture. The “turtle” is actually a bunch of palms. If that just ruins the whole thing for you, that is cool. If you still want some, let me know.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Pry Bar Archeology

Sunday, Jack and I finished off what I hope to be the last bit of major demolition at the Devil Queen. The front room with the bay window, probably the Queen’s parlor, was still sheathed in nasty, old ¼ inch drywall. Since we still have that monstrous dumpster sitting outside, we decided it was the perfect time to tear the drywall down.

Tearing out sheet rock isn’t too exciting. You just do it. And, if you’re a moron like me, you’ll forget your gloves and tear all the skin off your pinky finger just for the hell of it. Blood sacrifices, you know the routine.

Here is some of what we found:

More tomorrow . . .

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Gorgon’s Head

It was an inauspicious morning; arguments in the kitchen and three arm loads of pipe thrown out the kitchen window into the weeds and woods. It was enough to make you want a drink and lobotomy before breakfast.

In the end, diplomacy ruled and a detente was reached. The Mrs. would go shopping with her mom while Jack and I slew the Gorgon.

It took us the better part of the day to sever its head and install the tangled mass beneath the kitchen sink. Fortunately, we only had to make one trip to Lowe’s to make it all work.

Remember, there is no such thing as too much plumber's putty. The excess will ooze out and is easily scraped away. A leakless seal is a thing of great beauty.

Against all odds, everything seems to work. This includes the Tankless Water Heater Number 2, amazing.

Only one final rite is required for completion: a thick bead of caulk under the sinks lip on the countertop. That lovely is waiting for me tonight.

Friday, July 21, 2006


Over my vacation the other week, I went to the book store and read the current issue of several home improvement magazines. This post over at Nightmare on Elm Street got me thinking, what is the purpose of all these magazines?

I looked at the following magazines:

This Old House: Okay, I didn’t look at this magazine at the book store. It is the only home improvement magazine to which I have subscription. I agree with most of the criticism that this magazine (and the TV show) receives. The biggest problem is that only a small minority of Americans can actually afford to build/remodel on the scale these folks do. On more than one occasion my wife and I have considered letting our subscription lapse, but we inevitably find one glimmering bit of information that makes getting the magazine worth it, a tool review, a small how to tip, or some other gem.

And, even though many of the designs shown are out of our price range, they do serve as a valuable point of departure. Scarlet has come up with some inspired design ideas that were sparked by something seen in this magazine.

Old House Journal’s New Old House (Summer 2006 Issue): This wasn’t a bad little magazine. It too falls into the who-the-fuck-can-afford-to-do-that? category, but I did glean a few interesting bits. The most interesting bit was on what a correctly proportioned classic was and why most architects have not one clue what the hell one is.

Old House Journal: I’ve always been ambivalent about this publication. On the one hand, the folks care really care about old houses. They’ll give you some good how-to tips, they spend a lot of time covering how things were done back in the old days, and they support a high level of craftsman ship. On the other hand, the kind of anal-retentive attention to detail they bring to these same topics colored with a seeming distaste for those who don’t do it “The Right Way” (usually a historically accurate restoration) irritates me. Sometimes I wonder if I’m hypersensitive, but I’ve talked with other folks who feel the same way, so I’m guessing there is something to it. Still, it’s worth reading from time to time.

Victorian Homes Magazine: This magazine was a real surprise. First, it doesn’t really tell you how to build or remodel anything. It’s did give some Working with Contractors 101 Tips, but that wasn’t too interesting to me at this point. I knew I had to buy the magazine when I found two pieces on house moving; one was a letter to the editor and the other was a full article. I’ve never seen anyone write about this so I HAD to have it. It has some nice period trivia too. Definately a fun read.

There were tons more to look at, but I quickly ran out of time. It seems that these magazines represent the zenith of home improvement projects: High dollar, high end features, and more of an example of what is possible than what is affordable a Working Joe or Jane. The better ones give you some tips and advise, but few give you a step-by-step of any value to an amateur. If you want that, you’ll need to look elsewhere. Also, by virtue of being magazines, they lack any sort of meaningful interaction. Sure, you can write a letter to Norm, but, if you receive an answer at all, it’ll be in a later month’s magazine. For all intents and purposes, it’s left for you to cipher out what you need to know from their magazine (back issues included).

To return to the Old House Journal editorial that has all the housebloggers talking, maybe we have some cause to take umbrage, but I didn’t think the editorial was too bad once I read it myself.

If you take a look at Mr. Bock’s short bio on the Old House Journal website, you’ll note that he is not only an editor but a professional contractor with years of experience. I could see how someone who worked in construction for a living might not see the significance of having step by step photos for every job no matter how small. On the other hand, he’s clearly missed that for people who are doing this for the first time with little to no prior experience, every step is important.

Houseblogs fill a particular niche in the home improvement universe; as I’ve stated before, I think they will be around for a long time to come.

So, what does that make us? Home Improvement Punks.

Really, it isn’t much of a stretch. Without wading in too deep, punk music and culture tends to be all about a Do It Yourself, working class, antiauthoritarian approach to everything. It’s all about subverting the system, doing things your way, and indulging your tastes counter to the mainstream. Buying a falling-down, nearly condemned house counter to your friends, family, and bankers best advice, and reviving it in accordance to your tastes with your own two hands is the epitome of the punk movement. Who ever thought that homeowner ship could be an act of subversion?

If housebloggers are the punks of home improvement, I guess that would make Aaron & Jeannie our Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood (congratulations, it think). When I registered the Devil Queen on Houseblogs, I think the Queen was houseblog 48. As of today, there are 288, and I suspect that number will continue to increase. No one is making us do this, so there must be some compelling need and intrinsic value to these blogs.

On that note, have a good weekend. Tomorrow I'm going to dig out my old Dead Kennedys CD's and try to kick the kitchen sink's malingering ass for once and for all. You know, invest in some more sweat equity, abuse my own two hands, and subvert the order of the universe.

Titan Tankless

Well, we still haven’t had found a thermometer or measured our water pressure, but I do have a few things to say about our Titan Tankless water heater. Since we’ve started using our shower regularly about two weeks ago, we’ve only had two problems with our hot water, neither of which is demonstrably the heater's fault.

First, since all of our plumbing is new and PVC, there is still some debris in the lines. What kind of debris? PVC shavings. For those of you not familiar with PVC plumbing, no matter how careful you are, sooner or later you’re going to have to go back and cut the pipes you’ve already installed. It might be to add a line, you forgot a fixture, et cetera. Doesn’t matter why, it’ll happen, believe me. And, no matter how hard you try to prevent it, some of the pipe shavings will fall into the pipes. As you use your new plumbing, these shavings will work their way through the system. In the case of bath tubs and toilets the water lines are big enough for the shavings to pass through without a problem. However, shower heads, sink faucets with screens (kitchen and bath for sure), and other small outlets will collect these bits until they clog the fixture.

So far our shower head has been clogged four times (I think). We keep a wrench next to the shower so we don’t have to interrupt our shower to fix the problem (like this morning).

Our second problem is our water pressure. Under normal conditions as our friend from Springdale mentioned, our water pressure is around 2.5 gallons per minute (or is that our flow and not pressure?). He’s an engineer works with such things so I believe him. However, since we live in rural Arkansas, the Land of Tyson Chicken, there are a lot of commercial farms around here, particularly chicken houses. And, when the weather is abysmally hot (the last two weeks), you need to keep your chickens cool. Otherwise, the little shits will die by the hundreds or even thousands. The only thing that smells worse than a chicken house is a chicken house full of dead, hot chickens.

The best cooling method they have for these chicken houses is a fine mist of water. The ventilation fans blow the mist through the house and the temperature is keep under control; it’s like a giant swamp cooler.

When Crow Mountain and most of the surrounding area received “city” water (that is municipal water instead of well water), virtually no one lived here. Just some farm families with tens of thousands of chicken, hogs, cattle, and horses. Over the last twenty years or so, the area has seen a small town version of urban sprawl. Small subdivisions have begun to spring up all over the mountain. This is taxing the water system. There are plans to expand & improve it, but that is several years out at the best. So, in the mean time, when the chicken farmers kick on their sprayers en masse, the water pressure for system drops noticeably.

The Titan has trouble heating water when there isn’t any. What you end up with is a slow trickle of cool to cold water. If you turn it up to a higher setting, the Titan will kick in and send you a lot of hot water, but since the pressure is low, you don’t get much cold water. Instead of a hot shower you end up with a scalding hot one. Either way you aren't confortable. We had similar problems with our water pressure at our old house, but, since we had a traditional heater with its reserve of hot water in the tank, it wasn’t as noticeable.

Overall, we’re still pleased with out Titan. I don’t imagine anyone with a decent water utility would have this kind of problem with one.

Tarr, to answer one of your questions from this post (Frisky and Tankless from June; blogger won't let me link, sorry) the table of temperatures listed on the Titan website I linked to refer to the number of degrees the heater will raise the water from its current temperature. For example, on the highest setting, the Titan will raise the water temperature 91 degrees F. The cold water coming into your house should be around 58 degrees F. This means the hot water will be at 149 degrees. This is extremely hot (water boils at 212 F). Sorry for the confusion. The site I linked to wasn’t very clear on this point; I found the clarification on a different website.

If I ever finish our dumbass kitchen sink (this weekend please, God help me), I’ll try turning on our #2 heater.

Weather Stripping

I got a copy of Terry Meany's Working Windows for my birthday. I've been reading up on his weather stripping recommendations (seems to be a big fan of spring bronze stripping), and I was wondering what y'all recommend. Is spring bronze the best? Other suggestions? Please share whatever suggestion you might have. Thanks!

Forest Fire

“No junk food, just earthly goods
I ate weird berries in the woods
Now I’m seeing colors, I’m getting higher
I think I’ll start a forest fire”

- The Dead Kennedys

No plumbing for me last night.

To make a long story short, my in-laws are selectively logging a lot of the pine off their 100 acres. The logger’s bulldozer broke down and caught fire. We’re in the middle of drought and the average afternoon temperature has been around 100 degrees. The underbrush caught fire. A slight breeze carried it up a gully toward the top of Crow Mountain. Volunteer fire departments from all over Pope County came out to control the blaze.

My wife and I were concerned about my in-laws house. We kept calling but no one was answering the phone. A low cloud of smoke hung over the Devil Queen's neighborhood. Around 6:30 PM I went over to see if everything was okay. As a real feel good, I passed several fire trucks heading towards the Devil Queen on my way over to their house. Fortunately, everything was okay. They’d all been outside building a firebreak around the house to be on the safe side, so they were a little too busy to worry about phone calls.

Never a dull moment.

It could have been much worse. The fire didn’t get big enough to light the trees. If the fire ever makes it to the tree tops, you can pretty well kiss your ass good-bye. Since the wind was pretty light, we really lucked out. If the wind was stronger, the fire could have easily raced up the gully, jumped to the top of the mountain, and burned the Devil Queen's subdivision completely down.

Here is a piss poor map of it. The dark green line represents the top of the mountain. The fuzzy green is supposed to be the wooded slope down the side of the mountain. Once you get down to the bottom (were all the roads are) the ground is fairly flat.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Guilt, Disgust, Aesthetic Snobbery

To be honest, I’m really not much in the mood to post today, but, since my sister complained she didn’t have anything to do during her lunch break when I don’t post, here it is.

My wife and I have been very busy this week. Day jobs, how can you not resent them cutting into your quality home improvement time? Anyhow, our progress has been so slow that you can barely qualify it as such. If Jack hadn’t come over twice this week, nothing would have been finished.

As I may have mentioned (hell if I can remember), our stove is finally installed. Works fine, looks lovely (minus the remains of some stupid sticker the manufacturer super glued to the front of the oven), blah, blah, blah.

The sink looks pretty but is still completely non-functional. I’m going to work on it tonight, maybe. Or, maybe I’ll have a Guinness for dinner, watch Thomas the Train for the millionth time, play with Gideon, and go to bed. Who knows?

Last night Jack and I moved the refrigerator out of the dinning room corner and into the kitchen. It was anti-climatic to say the least. First, even though I bought a new icemaker waterline, I still couldn’t install it. The fridge, a free hand-me-down from Scarlet’s grandparents, is really old and only takes the flimsy little plastic tub feeds. I hate these feeds, they’re crap. My mom’s old fridge had these too, and it flooded the kitchen. Twice.

Then we moved the fridge into place anyhow, and, to be honest, all the fresh paint, new cabinets, etc really accent how fugly this fridge is. Its mere presence in kitchen ages the whole room by ten years. We’re worried that when the appraiser comes out in the not so distant future that he’ll come to the same conclusion too. Now, this is where the guilt comes into the equation. The fridge was free. It works. We can’t afford a new one at the minute even if the credit card companies claim that it’s “priceless.”

The fridge also sticks out something like 6 inches past the edge of the counter top. Our kitchen is small, but it didn’t look that way until the fridge sat there jutting out into the middle of the room. To make things look even more ghetto, it is 31 inches wide but the cut out is for a full 36” fridge. It’s a little off center to hide the cutoff valve for the icemaker which only makes it look that much better.

And, to make it even worse, when you enter the kitchen from the living room, it is the first thing you see in the kitchen. Your first impression of the kitchen we’ve spent 2 years working on is this old shoe appliance. It’s absolutely maddening.

Fortunately, there is actually a subcategory of refrigerators called “counter deep.” As soon as I finish shitting the $1500 to $2500 they cost, I’m buying one and my wife may worship me as a god.

Sure, call us ungrateful snobs. Maybe we are (though I am really grateful to have a fridge, even this one)? Even if we are, sooner or later that fridge or I must go. I don’t think that I could live with it long term without gouging my eyes out.

Well, if it is so bad, where is picture? Document this fugly thing! Sorry. I've been grumpy and evil for most of the week, so no picture for you!

And, according to my wife, I'm a bed nazi. To add to the long list of nocturnal crimes against my wife, I can now add sitting straight up in the middle of the night, yelling "WHAT ARE YOU DOING!," and falling over dead asleep. My wife claims all she did was rollover. Likely story, sounds like revisionist history to me.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


One thing I have noticed since we moved into the Devil Queen is that old houses sounds different. There are no street lights at the Queen, so our interior lights shine as a beacon to every bug for miles around. They swarm the windows at night. The windows are single pane glass, and the weird thing about it is things tapping on the outside of the glass often sound like they are inside the house. To make it even worse, most of our windows are in a state of semi-repair so we routinely get a few bugs in the Queen on a nightly basis. We’ve had to tape plastic drop clothes over a couple to keep the problem under control.

The worst bugs are June-bugs. I hate June-bugs. They are stupid, big, clumsy, and loud. And, the drone of their wings sounds suspiciously like a wasp’s in the dark. The last thing you want to hear as you drift off to sleep at night is the drone of a wasp in flight. This leaves you fully awake, pissed off, and searching for something kill. And, even if you know that is a June-bug, it will still buzz around the room all night, bouncing off the windows with a loud “plink,” and, at some point, crawl into bed with you. Last night was no exception, though I killed it before it could join us in bed. Little f’ing bastard. At times like these, I wish we'd moved our cat, Thera, in already. Thera likes June-bugs; they're crunchy, good eating.

I’m still getting used to the creak of the old floor boards too. On the one hand, I like this sound (I don’t know why but I always have), but, when you’re trying to sneak out of the house at 6 AM without waking the family, it sucks.

We’re going to oil the hinges soon. The living room door has started creaking like we’re living in an old horror movie. It's extra creepy at night.

And, according to my wife, there is at least one mouse in the attic. How does she know? She can hear it at night. Nice.


Here is something my wife sent me. Really, it says it all. I wish I had as much sense as my 2 year old son.

Here's something for your blog:

I was carrying Giddy to the car, and we had just made it about 20 feet from the house when he looked over my shoulder and said "house."

"Yes, it is a house," I told him. "This is our home."

Giddy looked at the house. The Devil Queen looming before us like a green, scaly monster. Peeling paint and shiny blank windows.

"Uh oh," he said.

"That's right," I laughed. "Uh oh."

Two Man Sink Stomping

Jack and I subdued the sink last night. We wrestled it to the ground, pinned it, and unscrewed the drain trap with considerable effort. I think the sink knew that if it didn’t give in to us that we’d use The Saw (thanks for the tips). Who says intimidation doesn’t work?

While we were at it, we installed the new drain traps and the faucet. That seems to have gone pretty well. We tried out the cold water side of the faucet, and it worked, no leaks. The only problem is that it has a slight drip; I’m going to pop the handle off the cold water side and tighten its guts. I think this should take care of the drip. As you can tell from my use of precise, technical terms like “guts,” plumbing isn’t really my forte. In our original division of labor for the Devil Queen, my wife was going to be the plumbing guru and was going to be the electrical guru. Somehow, I keep doing plumbing though.

We haven’t turned on the hot water yet since we have a double outlet cut-off valve (one outlet for the sink, one for the dishwasher). And, now that I think of it, we haven’t turned on that hot water heater either. Ooops. I’ll have to remember to do that too.

For the moment, the sink is just sitting in place. I’m going to finish all the hook-ups and drains, test the aforementioned, and then caulk/seal the sink rim. Hopefully, the sink will be finished then (like that will ever happen).

I thought that installing the kitchen stove would be easy. I was wrong. The first problem was that the stove didn’t come with a power supply. The last stove we bought three years ago came with one. We just opened the box, plugged it in, and it was finished.

Not this one. I guess it is part of the New Cruelty. Jack and I ran to Lowe’s, picked up a four-prong power supply, and rushed back to the Queen. Once she was wired, I gave the stove a quick once-over. I noticed that the front right corner of the stove was low. When I tried to level it out with the built-in, threaded, adjustable foot, I discovered that the hole was stripped. The foot slide out of the threaded hole. Not good.

Fortunately, we’re pack rats. I dug through our mountain of home-improvement treasures and produced two random nuts (no idea what they went to, hope I don’t miss them later) that fit perfectly. With some minor adjusting, we got the stove level and installed.

I’d planned to have a very fancy first meal when we finally got things hooked up. It didn’t happen, but I don’t care. We flipped on the breaker, turned the burners on for the first time, and cooked a pot of red beans and rice. And, I was just happy to have a hot meal cooked in my own kitchen for a change.

It was getting late so we deferred moving the fridge for another day (today?). Besides which, I need to get a water-feed for the ice maker at Lowe’s anyhow. Might as well install that BEFORE we set the fridge in place, right?

Monday, July 17, 2006

Operation Trebuchet

I feel that I am left with no other choice but to build a trebuchet. Since Monty Python launched that first fateful cow, the launching of unorthodox objects from medieval siege weapons has become a time-honored way to make a memorable statement. The 1990’s TV show Northern Exposure featured one of the most notable examples of this fine tradition: launching a casket & corpse into an Alaska lake at a funeral. Now, I too aspire to become part of this illustrious group. My kitchen sink simply must go.

Despite a spirited effort on our part, the kitchen refuses to be finished. Late Saturday we subdued the kitchen floor with the last of four coats of polyurethane. Scary, black cracks to the Underworld between the floor boards and the base of the wall behind the stove and dishwasher were filled with spray foam insulation. The marble countertop and grout were sealed. The cabinets were cleaned and a light was installed under the kitchen sink. The kitchen sink, however, refused to be mastered. Two trips to town for parts and after two hours of armed struggle our conquering efforts were rebuffed. We retreated to bed in shameful, teeth-gnashing defeat.

The kitchen sink we now have was salvage from somewhere or other several years ago. I can’t remember where exactly, a house in Russellville I think. It’s huge, cast iron, and made in the early 1970’s. I’d show you a picture of the evil hussy, but I was too pissed off to think about pictures last night. The sink is in good shape minus some scratches and wear. Aside from a good washing, the only thing the sink really needs is to be re-plumbed. In order to do this, we have to remove the two old, corroded drain traps and install new ones. Everything else should be fairly straight forward, a sure sign of trouble.

The sink has two sides (one small for rinsing, the other large for general use). The small basin surrendered its drain trap without too much effort. The other trap was obstinately immobile. Our curses, pleas, bloody knuckles, tears, and bruises were futile. It was adamantly unmoved. Maybe it was the suffering induced delirium, but, I think we may have agreed to get a new kitchen sink before we tumbled into bed around midnight.

Refreshed after five hours of sleep and half a pot of coffee I’m thinking about giving the sink one last chance to repent. Jack is coming over to help me move the stove and refrigerator tonight. Maybe while he’s there he might help me beat the everlasting shit out of that drain trap. If it refuses to see reason, it’ll have a one way ticket to the Big Ol’ Dumpster in the Sky.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Squeaky Wheel Gets the Oil

Whoever said bitching, moaning, and whining are a waste of time are wrong. After my complaining yesterday, all the glories of the world found their way to my doorstep. First, as I mentioned in brief yesterday, Energy Miser came out and finished insulating the Devil Queen. We feared that the whole interior would be covered with a fine layer of insulation dust, but it really wasn’t bad at all, just a little here and there.

Since the heat and humidity have been abysmal, we kicked the AC on a few days ago even though we didn’t have any insulation in the attic and a couple of walls. The interior temperature was 89 degrees (9 PM) when we turned on the AC. It took it about 6 or 7 hours to get the temperature down to 67 degrees. Yesterday, my wife turned the AC off when Energy Miser arrived. They had to have all the doors open so running the AC was pointless. When we got back to the Devil Queen at about 9PM it was 87 degrees inside. We turned on the AC and it only took it an hour to get the temperature down to 74 degrees (67 was a little too cool for us). It is amazing what difference insulation makes. I don’t know how the previous owners keep the Devil Queen cool without wall insulation. I guess they didn't. It’s no wonder the house was neglected for so long, they were pissing all their money away on the heating & cooling bill.

It's not much to look at (picture below), but it still tickles me. The funniest thing about the AC is that neither my wife nor I actually expected it to work when we turned it on. I think we're still in shock that it worked and (so far) has continued to work.

Our kitchen faucet also appeared yesterday. This means that once the last coat of polyurethane is dry in the kitchen we’ll start plumbing the sink and dishwasher.

As a bonus, our milk paint for the kitchen cabinets has also arrived. If we don’t squander our entire weekend lounging around in our sumptuous, air conditioned palace, we might actually have a working kitchen. Then the laundry room is next on our hit list. All it needs is whole lot of work and it’ll be finished too.

Here is the kitchen with two coats of polyurethane.

And, here is the counter top trim. We're still sealing it too.

These are a couple pictures of our new, glorified camp ground. In case you're wondering, the white cloud hovering over the bed is our mosquito netting. Aside from a few moths, there isn't too much need for it now, but it was essential the first few nights.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Breaking News

Grumpy Tim showed up at 8 AM today according to my wife. The insulation job should be FINISHED today.

Yet another testiment to the power of VOODOO CONTRACTING. There is no greater motivation in life than a needle in the eye.


We finally did it. We have moved into the Devil Queen. I think this officially makes us members of the feculent hell-hole, camping-with-a-mortgage club now.

Even though our current digs have a glorified shanty town feel too them, it is still much nicer than the first fixer-upper we lived in five some-odd years ago (we wore shoes indoors for about 6 months because it was that disgusting). I have pictures but you’ll have to wait until later in the week for those.

A major plus is that the AC actually WORKS! You have no idea how exciting this is. The first two nights we stayed at the Queen we just left the windows open. The first night wasn’t too bad, but the second night was terrible. Sure the Queen is hemoraging cold air like a trama victim, but I can sleep confortably damnit. To hell with the electricty bill.

Living in the Devil Queen is a mixed blessing. On the one hand, it’s nice having a place of our own again. On the other hand, it is less than ideal in a number of ways. First of all, we feel like bad parents since we can’t move our son in with us yet. We are still in the process of making the Queen baby friendly (clean, safe, and locking doors so he can’t escape). Until this happens, he will be staying with his grandparents.

The most frustrating part is we are hostages of our insulation contractor. Until he finishes, we won’t be able to effectively move forward. We figure that when insulation gets blown into the attic that a certain amount of dust et cetera will filter down through some of the cracks between the ceiling boards in the unfinished rooms. Babies + insulation dust do not mix. Insulation dust + tacky, half-dried polyurethane don’t mix either.

In the mean time when we can drag ourselves away from our contractor voodoo doll, we’ve been working on some small projects. And, Jack came up the other day and put in our mailbox. Why he volunteered to do this I don’t know but we’re extremely grateful.


Such a lovely day, my bile is already on the rise. It’s already in the upper 70’s and the sun is hardly up. The humidity is at 70% too, a nice touch. Doing nothing more than sitting perfectly still outside is enough to make you sweat.

The weather isn’t the only thing on my shit list today. Tim, the grumpy insulation contractor, is slowly working his way onto my “People to Be Vivisectioned” list. He was supposed to start June 27th but didn’t show until the 30th. He worked two days last week. He has yet to show this week. I called him Monday to see when he’d finish. He promised that he’d, “be out early Tuesday to finish the job.” As you may have guessed, he was a no show.

So, we’ve started looking for a new insulation contractor. If Tim is lucky, he’ll miraculously show today and finish. Otherwise he’ll be out of a job and he’ll have to haggle with my wife for whatever his half finished job is worth. The last guy who did that left with a bloody nub, but, then again, he probably stole all of our tools too. So, who won that little exchange?

If I wasn’t such an ineffectual, passive-aggressive pencil-pusher, I’d go all Deadwood on his ass. You know, run him down in the street and gouge his eye out or something. Or, I could just call him up and call him a cocksucker (speaking of which, why does HBO even bother to call the show Deadwood? Based on the one whole episode I’ve seen, the whole dialogue seems to be proper nouns and pronouns mixed with the word cocksucker. It seems like they ought to just call the show Cocksucker, but who’d watch a show called that?), but the chances of that are pretty slim.

Also, the folks I bought my kitchen sink faucet are on The List. With the exception of these folks, I’ve had good luck with all the items I’ve bought on eBay for the Devil Queen. I sent them a money order nearly three weeks ago. They claimed that they didn’t receive the payment until the 5th of July. Now, knowing the post office, this is plausible. However, since they are shipping it via UPS 2nd Day delivery, it should already be here. Aside from putting the final coat of polyurethane on the kitchen floor, this is the last major project for the kitchen. Without the faucet, I can’t mount the sink, plumb the drain, or install the dishwasher.

I could ramble on with my never-ending shit list, but most of it falls into the “Who gives a shit, are you twelve? Grow up!” category. However, in my defense, I would like to point out that I have the mental functioning of a twelve year old.

Anyhow, I’m getting ahead of myself now. My wife and I took off all of last week. We divided our time into two distinct categories: working like slaves on the Devil Queen and indulging in Dionysian orgy of excess that would make Nero proud. What is the point of working hard if you don’t get to party hard too?

[“Ball eis Korakas” is from Classical Greek. Literally it means “go to the crows” which is taken to mean “Go to Hell.” See, that year of High School Greek finally paid off]

Monday, July 10, 2006

Still Living

Despite our best efforts to ensure otherwise, we are still alive. Last week was very busy. Sorry it's been so long since I posted, but more to come soon.

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